LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A group of Southland residents voiced their concerns to lawmakers Monday about dozens of proposed cellphones towers set to be built in their neighborhoods.
They presented online petitions with more than 350,000 signatures asking that officials cut back on the plan.
According to the petition, the 70-foot cell towers are part of the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS) system, that includes nearly 50 towers across the city, which activists say can pose a health threat as well as bring down property values.
In March, Los Angeles County firefighters successfully fought against plans under LA-RICS for cellphone towers they claimed were dangerously close to their fire stations and put their workers at risk.
“There are those who do not want anything,” said Don Knabe of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. “And this is a matter of security.”
Lawmakers say the towers are essential to their emergency communication system that experts say would work in any disaster.
The federal government has agreed to pay L.A. County $90 million for 84 cell tower sites.
“Right now, our systems can’t communicate with each other. So, in the event of a major disaster or emergency, they actually don’t have the ability to communicate with each other. This is critically important,” L.A. City Councilman Mitchell Englander said.
But critics say residents should have been notified before the cell towers were installed.
Kevin Mottus led a citizens group protest against the original plan for these towers. The county responded by downsizing the plan’s scope from more than 150 towers to 84.
“They never met with us; they never asked what we wanted,” Mottus said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Mottus and four others presented the online petitions with signatures gathered in one week, asking the City Council and Board of Supervisors to further downsize the cell-tower plan.
“We’re trying to be as amenable as we can with the public, but yet we’re trying to protect the citizens,” Knabe said.
The cell towers are supposed to be in place by September.